No decisions regarding the SEC football season were made on Monday during an in-person meeting of conference officials at the SEC office in Birmingham, Ala., but commissioner Greg Sankey reiterated that the “critical decisions” will be made later this month, according to a release.
“It is clear that current circumstances related to COVID-19 must improve and we will continue to closely monitor developments around the virus on a daily basis,” Sankey said. “In the coming weeks we will continue to meet regularly with campus leaders via videoconferences and gather relevant information while guided by medical advisors. We believe that late July will provide the best clarity for making the important decisions ahead of us.”
The athletics directors and members of the SEC staff met Monday in the SEC’s Kramer-Moore Conference Room – the largest conference room in the league office – which allowed the group to social distance. Several external groups and individuals participated by videoconference.
The meeting, which had been scheduled prior to the recent decisions of the Big Ten and Pac-12 to move to conference-only schedules, marked the first in-person gathering of the SEC athletics directors since the league’s men’s basketball tournament in Nashville in March. They have met multiple times per week via videoconference since the discontinuation of athletic competition in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We had a productive meeting on Monday and engaged in discussions on a number of important issues that will contribute to critical decisions to be made in the weeks ahead,” Sankey said. “The ability to personally interact over the course of an entire day contributed to the productivity of the meeting.”
Members of the SEC’s Return to Activity and Medical Guidance Task Force gave a report and discussed issues relevant to the current pre-season calendar and the approaching fall seasons of competition, including an update on current COVID-19 testing procedures. The athletics directors also discussed possible scheduling options for fall competition, and Sankey did address the non-conference decisions made by other leagues.
“We have no common games with the Big Ten. The impact of their decision is indirect,” he said. “We did have two games with the Pac-12. We’ve had minimal impact to our direct schedule.”
The SEC leaders also talked about game management best practices for ensuring a healthy environment at athletics events for student-athletes, coaches, officials, staff and fans.
“The trends are not what we desired, not what we had experienced earlier in the summer. Pretty much in the wrong direction,” Sankey said. “That’s problematic. But that doesn’t mean that’s the finish line.”